Rio 2016 Olympics Preview: Hagino Threatens Phelps/Lochte 2IM Dynasty

Men’s 200 IM:

2012 Olympic Champ: Michael Phelps (USA), 1:54.27
2015 World Champ: Ryan Lochte (USA), 1:55.81
World Record: Ryan Lochte (USA), 1:54.00, 2011

There’s no denying the fact that two American men have reigned king in the men’s 200 IM going back all the to the beginning of this century. Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte have dominated the event through U.S. Olympic Trials, Olympic Games, World Championships and every meet in between, beginning with Phelps’ crushing victory in at the 2003 World Championships to Lochte’s recent gold medal-winning performance in Kazan.

Michael Phelps Ryan Lochte by Mike LewisPhelps, the defending Olympic gold medalist, and Lochte, 2012’s silver medalist, own the top 11 performances of all time in this event, led by Lochte’s world record-setting swim of 1:54.00 at the 2011 World Championships.

Olympics-wise, Phelps has three-peated gold in the men’s 200 IM, winning the world’s biggest prize in 2004, 2008 and 2012. And, the man gives us no reason to doubt he’ll rake in his 4th consecutive gold medal in this event in Rio.

The 31-year-old holds the fastest time on the globe through the Olympic qualifying period with the 1:54.75 he threw down at the 2015 U.S. Nationals in San Antonio, a time that comfortably beat Lochte’s 1:55.81 winning time from Kazan. Phelps toned things down a tad at the U.S. Trials in Omaha, where it took him just 1:55.91 to take the top roster spot, with Lochte right behind in 1:56.22, but his ripped physique didn’t look totally worn out and it’s unlikely either swimmer was fully tapered for Omaha.

Although falling just short to make an Olympic spot in the 400m IM event, Lochte is still a monster in this shorter event, keeping pace with Phelps throughout the last decade. He managed a mighty 1:54.98 at the 2013 Barcelona World Championships, won this race in Kazan and racing side-by-side next to Phelps always brings out the best in this 31-year-old.

Kosuke Hagino, 200 IM prelm, 2013 FINA Worlds (Photo Credit Victor Puig,

Kosuke Hagino, 200 IM prelm, 2013 FINA Worlds (Photo Credit Victor Puig,

If there’s anyone who can rain on the Phelps/Lochte parade, however, it’s Japan’s Kosuke Hagino. At just 21 years of age, the dynamic swimmer is a full decade younger than his stars n’ stripes counterparts, and has proven his range over a multitude of events. In Rio, Hagino will be contesting both IM events, as well as the 200 freestyle, but he’s also among the world’s best in events ranging from the 200m backstroke to the 1500m freestyle (sans goggles, even).

Hagino has come as close to breaking the 1:55 threshold as the 1:55.07 he threw down to win the event at Japanese Trials, sitting within two tenths of a second from Phelps’ San Antonio swim. Hagino, who has expressed his reverence of Phelps in interviews, would not be intimidated, but rather would relish the opportunity to swim next to the 22-time Olympic medalist. As with Lochte, racing right next to Phelps, something he hasn’t done since 2012, would potentially give Hagino that extra push he needs to take his 200 IM to the 1:54-level.

Beyond the top 3 of Phelps, Hagino and Lochte, the field’s next tier is composed of two Brazilians. Mainstay competitor Thiago Pereira holds 1:56.65 as his best time since London, the mark which garnered a silver behind Lochte in Kazan. Pereira also wrangled in a silver medal at the 2015 Pan American Games, clocking a time of 1:57.42.

Thiago Pereira. Trofeu Maria Lenk de Natacao, realizado no Centro Aquatico Olimpico. 20 de abril de 2016, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil. Foto: Satiro Sodré/ SSPress

Thiago Pereira. Trofeu Maria Lenk de Natacao, realizado no Centro Aquatico Olimpico. 20 de abril de 2016, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil. Foto: Satiro Sodré/ SSPress

Perhaps more importantly than even his times, however, is simply the fact that Pereira is headed to his 4th Olympic Games appearance and this time it’s in his home nation. Nothing drives the competition past their own expectations more than a crowd roaring behind him with the thought of standing on the podium with the host country’s flag raised behind him.

Such thoughts will also be going through the mind of Pereira’s teammate, Henrique Rodrigues. At 25 years old, Rodrigues had a breakthrough performance at last year’s Pan American Games in Toronto, claiming the 200m IM gold in a new Games’ record of 1:57.06. He’s yet to be in the range that would threaten the podium, but he’ll certainly have enough rabbits to chase to make every attempt to do so.

Additional competitors entering the mix include China’s Wang Shun, Australia’s Thomas Fraser-Holmes and Great Britain’s Dan Wallace. Wang Shun scored a time of 1:56.81 to earn a bronze medal in Kazan, but would need to drop almost 2 seconds to fight for the bronze in Rio.

Fraser-Holmes is an athlete who is a 200m IM mogul in his home country of Australia, but still needs to drop significant time to score a lifetime best to be in the level that would cause the Phelpses and Lochtes of the world to tremble.

Finally, Wallace is somewhat of a wild card. The British swimmer and former Florida Gator finished 4th in this event at the 2015 World Championships, but had a rather disastrous British Olympic Trials earlier this year. He wound up 6th in the event at the London Aquatics Centre, stopping the clock at 2:00.26, a mark which wouldn’t have made it out of prelims at the 2012 Olympic Games. In fact, he snagged his British Olympic roster spot based on ‘coaches’ discretion’, rather than because he raced to a qualifying time.

Wallace’s outcome in Rio depends on what kind of swimmer he brings to the table – the one from Kazan, or the one from London.

Place Swimmer Country Best Time Since
2012 Olympics
Predicted Time
In Rio
1 Michael Phelps USA 1:54.75 1:54.4
2 Kosuke Hagino JPN 1:55.07 1:54.8
3 Ryan Lochte USA 1:55.81 1:55.4
4 Thiago Pereira BRA 1:56.65 1:56.4
5 Shun Wang CHN 1:56.81 1:57.2
6 Henrique Rodrigues BRA 1:57.06 1:57.8
7 Thomas Fraser-Holmes AUS 1:57.88 1:58.1
8 Dan Wallace GBR 1:57.59 1:58.5


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5 years ago

Small correction: “As with Lochte, racing right next to Phelps, something he hasn’t done since 2012, would potentially give Hagino that extra push he needs to take his 200 IM to the 1:54-level.”
Hagino raced Phelps at the 2014 Pan Pacific championships where Hagino actually beat Phelps in the 200 IM.

Reply to  Irviner
5 years ago

But they weren’t next to each other. Hagino was in lane 4 and phelps was in lane 7 at pan pacs

5 years ago

Pereira just out touches lochte

Reply to  5wimmer
5 years ago

The Trials Locthe, if he is the same at Rio he may actually be out touched by Pereira.. Probably both on 1:55 mid high.. Hagino might have a chance to beat Phelps. I am curious to see what Phelps will do about the double.. go 100% on 200 IM and risk missing 100 fly finals or go 95% and have a chance of getting beaten by Hagino. Or he may go 100% and still be able to qualify for 100 fly flnals, who knows..

Team Rwanda
Reply to  Rafael
5 years ago

Lochte is not going to Swim 1.56 low at the olympics. Just as Phelps is not going to swim 1.55 high. Those times were at Trials where they had no can bet they will both improve from that. I predict

Gold : Lochte 1.53.9 (Please Lochte, please do it!!!)
Silver: Phelps 1.54.2
Bronze: Hagino 1.54.6

Reply to  Team Rwanda
5 years ago

I have trouble thinking Lochte will go under 1:55, much less 1:54

Reply to  Team Rwanda
5 years ago

If lochte just puts his head down and actually finishes the race he can win. If he goes with a long glide again…. ugh that will be so frustrating. Learn how to finish, Ryan. Go a 1:53. Put yourself legitimately in the argument for greatest IMer of all time.

Reply to  Penguin
5 years ago

I think that belongs to Phelps with Lochte in a close second. But he has that injury. I wonder how it has affected his breast role IN TRAINING. I am worried. I think at BEST he will go 1:54.6. But I think a 1:55 mid or low would be just great.

Reply to  Team Rwanda
5 years ago

Lochte I’m afraid will be lucky to be 1:54.9.

5 years ago

Remember now, Phelps has been talking about “really wanting to go a best time” since the comeback started. I have to think that also means that he wants the 2IM WR back. He didn’t even realize he was close to it in San Antonio in 2015. His Freestyle is picking back up, especially with that 48.3 in practice. With someone close to him on going into freestyle, I think he gets it done and holds 4 individual world records. I think it’s what he wants to do. His butterfly WRs are already in the untouchable zone for the foreseeable future. The 2IM record is “the one that got away” as it were.

Phelps 1:53.76
Lochte 1:54.08
Hagino 1:54.97

5 years ago

Now that Phelps is flag-bearer, tack on a few tenths of a seconds. Hagino wins this.

Reply to  Jeff
5 years ago


5 years ago

Didn’t Lochte go 1,54 high in Barcelona?

Reply to  Lopez
5 years ago

2013 1:54.98

tea rex
5 years ago

Thomas Fraser-Holmes scratched the 200 IM at Trials, and is only entered in the 400 IM and 200 free.
Sorry to see no Laszlo Cseh in here, but it’s understandable.

King in da norf
5 years ago

Emperor of the Chrysanthemum Throne
Old Yank #1
Old Yank #2

5 years ago

My picks

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Swim analyst, businesswoman.

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